Pandemic Theatrics

Christina Salem, Reporter

  Performing arts is one of the many things that suffers under the wrath of the pandemic. This school year, due to COVID-19, the Drama department was not allowed to do their typical productions. They needed something that could be a replacement. Something different and intriguing. Something that allowed the cast to be fairly small. The “something” that they needed was a web series.

  Even if it would be drastically different from years prior, the drama department was determined to put on a production this year. Braeden Byrne, sophomore, is one of many who have to adjust. 

  “This year, since we can’t do an actual in-person play, we’re kind of shooting something film, and it’s different because it’s, y’know, instead of, ‘You rehearse the same lines over and over again,’ you learn new things, and you have to do it in front of the camera, which is weird,” said sophomore Byrne. Byrne played Mark in “Camp” and Harrison in “The Club.”

  Transitioning from rehearsing a play or a one-act to a filmed production comes with its unique set of obstacles.

  “It’s a lot harder to do productions now because of COVID. We try to kind of work around that with the web series, but even that kind of, like, ended up being difficult because of missing days due to COVID,” Junior Bee Parson said. “And then also we’re only here a few days a week, and so we don’t have a lot of time to work on it.”

  These missing days are a problem that gets bigger when the cast is unable to film at the same time.

  “We can’t actually all group up together after school and such,” Dalten Hall, sophomore, said. “So to make a cast small, we’re doing some sort of film series, so we have to record and get cast at different times over just rehearsing it and then performing it for the school.”

  Even working with small groups and limited time, it is clear to see how resilient and determined the drama department is to put on a production in this challenging year. The drama department does it because of their own respective reasons. For junior Bee Parson, Drama is where she gets to explore another identity and another world.

  “I think I’ve always just had a pull to the performing arts,” Bee Parson said. “I think I’m a relatively nervous and anxious person, but being on stage, I feel like it all kind of not completely goes away, but I don’t have to worry about it, and I’m kind of in my own little world where I get to, like, just be someone else and do my own thing and, like, have fun with a character that I get to, like, build and create.” Parson played Emily in “Sunspot,” Maddie in “Camp,” and Jenna in “The Club.”

  Like Bee, sophomore Dalten Hall enjoyed drama from the beginning.

  “I guess I just like being on stage. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do my whole life, basically…  I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s like its own emotion, and when you’re doing something you enjoy, it’s fun,” said Hall. Hall played Brad in Camp and in “The Club” plays “some nerd named Thomas. Unlike real life.” 

  For others, it is about the community. 

  “The best part of drama is probably the relationships you make ‘cause you have to spend so much time with these people that you learn a lot about them,” said Byrne.

  Along with the thespian roles in a production, Drama can also include a role of often unnoticed importance. Angela Pham, junior, works behind-the-scenes as a Production Assistant and worked in tech for previous productions.

  “This year I’ve taken on more of a leadership role, uh, I started doing it last year, but this year [I’m more of a] leader, uh so, I like looking I like being someone people look up to,” said Pham. 

  Deer Creek alumnus and playwright, Jonathan Young, additionally has something to add when asked how he feels about the cast.

  “They’re all awful people, and I hate them very much,” said Young, “Nah, I’m just kidding. They’re all great. They’re all really smart, and it’s really fun to work with high school students, especially because it’s right in that period where people are still learning and figuring out new things, and it’s just it’s exciting to remember all the things that I found in acting and writing, and then get to be there when these people who love the same things that I love learn about those things, too.” Young wrote Deer Creek’s 2019-20 One-Act “Sunspot,” the 2019-20 play “Camp, and the 2020-21 web series “The Club.” 

  Because of everything that has happened and might happen (e.g. COVID-19, power outages, Oklahoma’s weather), “The Club” might not come to fruition, but the cast is hopeful. It certainly will not stop the cast members, stage crew and the directors from trying.

  “I don’t even know if it’ll get released… [but] it’ll be good. It’ll be kind of weird to see myself on screen, but y’know… I’m excited for it,” Hall said. 

  “The Club” is tentatively expected to be out in May.